From the Editor's desk :-
Dear Do..Re..Me..Fa.. browsers,
I salute you guys for your great patience to listen to a sweet chord of Music on your most favorite column Do-Re-Me-Fa. As you know in Canada the much awaited “summer” keeps everyone so busy… and I am not an exception! I am truly sorry for being late in presenting a music sensation on a timely manner… however, I console myself with a saying – “It’s better late than never!”.
Now let me get back to my business. In order to keep up my promise to you guys to present to you the most sensational musical chord, I started gazing at the vast galaxies of stars and I found the sparkling gem of Konkani music. Music has no religion, no cast or creed, yet it is divine! I am all the more glad today, again Do..Re..Me..Fa.. has crossed the boundaries to play a super Konkani chord from GSB community for the second time. The stupendous Konkani Singer that I am presenting to you today is none other than one and only The Hindustani Classical Music veteran Vasanthi R. Nayak.
I wish to extend my very special thanks to my buddy Florine Roche for all her efforts in spite her personal commitments to feature this amazing star for Do..Re..Me..Fa.. She took all the trouble to meet Vasanthi Nayak in person and spent half-a-day with her for an exclusive interview.
Before playing this sweet musical Chord I take this opportunity to thank you for all your support and understanding that keep us going!
See you again next month with yet another spectacular chord and that could be an exciting, melodious music sensation. Keep waiting… until then, bye!
The sparkling gem of Konkani music – Vasanthi Nayak
Age has not withered her enthusiasm for music or her attitude towards life which has always been upbeat. Having blessed with beauty and talent for music Vasanthi R Nayak, is one of the very few Konkani ladies from Mangalore who has learnt Hindustani classical music for decades under a guru and excelled in it. Music is something which runs in her blood as her father late M Subraya Pai was a classical singer and connoisseur of Hindustani music. At a time when learning music by girls was frowned upon in GSB community in Mangalore, Vasanthi Nayak took interest in music at a young age though not through the traditional way of learning music with a guru. Her father had patronized a few musicians at his home and naturally Vasanthi was exposed to music and various ragas at a young age and that proved to be the foundation on which she later on built her music career.
Born on July 7, 1944 Vasanthi Nayak was the last among the 7 children born to M Subraya Pai and Laxmidevi Pai of Mannagudda. She did her schooling in Canara High School and later went on to do Hindi MA privately. She was married off to Pangla Ramakrishna Nayak of Katapadi and the couple later shifted to Mangalore. Vasanthi Nayak was fortunate to have in P R Nayak a life partner who whetted her dreams of learning music the traditional way. She joined Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan to learn music from M Narayana Pai, who was her first music guru. After completing her junior from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan she completed the senior from the same teacher who came to her house to teach music.
“I must say I was fortunate to have a husband who was a great admirer of Hindustani classical music and it was because of his support, encouragement and sacrifices I was able to achieve whatever I have attained in the music field”, she reveals giving full credit to her late husband P R Nayak for her achievements. In fact Vasanthi was fortunate in more than one ways. It was out of sheer luck that she was accepted as a teacher by Kaushalya Manjeshwar, a Hindustani music artiste of Jaipur Gharana. Kaushalya who was originally from Mumbai was married off to a man from Manjeshwar and that proved to be a great boon to Vasanthi Nayak.
Her music guru Narayana Pai asked the permission of Kaushalya’s music guru Maggubai Kurdikar and only after her blessings Kaushalya accepted Vasanthi Nayak as her disciple. She accepted to teach her music on the condition that Vasanthi should not give public performances in the initial years because any mistake would have rendered a blow to the reputation of her gharana. It was only after 18 years of training and dedication Vasanthi was able to give public performances.
Apart from learning in Mangalore Vasanthi also went to Mumbai, did her guru seva and honed her skills in music. She says that during her Mumbai visit she was lucky to learn some tips from Kaushalya’s guru Maggubai Kurdikar. “I must say I was lucky to get music tips from my teacher’s teacher, an opportunity very few people get in their lifetime”, Vasanthi recalls.
After 18 years of learning under her guru Vasanthi Nayak, had arrived on the scene of Mangalore, as a trained Hindustani singer. Her husband was a willing accomplice in her pursuit and he travelled along with her carrying the Tanpura wherever she went for giving performances. “My husband was always proud of my achievements and he was the proud and happiest when I gave performances. It was he who was instrumental in grooming me and for my achievements in music field”, she says with gratitude.
Vasanthi Nayak sang light songs and Bhajans during her performances in Mangalore, Udupi, Karwar, Ankola, and Goa and many places in Kerala. She has also given music performances in Dharwad, Mumbai and Bangalore. She has also accompanied on Tanpura to music greats like Gangubai Hanagal, Parveen Sultana and Pt Mallikarjun Mansoor. In 1998 she even performed in Singapore when she went on a holiday with her husband. She had to perform in a music academy where her nephew was learning Tabla and performing in front of musicians was like an acid test which she passed with flying colours.
Vasanthi Nayak also says that it was out of sheer good luck that during the pratishtapana of the Vyas Mandir in Haridwar more than two decades ago, it was the CD of the bhajans sung by her to the lyrics t by Swami Sudheendra Teertha Swamy that was played all along the procession to the Mandir. The CD had songs like Badarayana stuti, prapathi, Hagalu Shasanam and other Sanskrit bhajans. “That is my greatest achievement as the entire GSB crowd from all over the country was present during the occasion. Among the sea of people assembled the swami gave Prasad only to my husband and me” she proudly recalls.
The success of this CD paved the way for many more cassettes and CD’s and she reached the acme of her music career by bringing out Konkani CD’s like “Sangeeth Sugandhi”, “Konkani geet gucha”, “Konkani Nritya Vandana”, “Manjunath Karthan Pranam” (Konkani devotional songs) and “Jeevana Chakra”, a CD containing shishu geeth (lullabies). Vasanthi Nayak is B high artiste of Akashavani and has given numerous programmes since its inception. She is also approved artiste of DD and has given regular programmes on Doordarshnan.
Power of resilience
Her husband was like a pillar of strength to her and his sudden demise in 2002 was a big blow to Vasanthi Nayak. However, she had the power of resilience to put together the shattered pieces of her life and accomplish what her husband wanted her to be. “His death was a huge shock and left a deep void in my life. But I had to gather my wits and go on because I felt that I should fulfill what he had expected out of me as a singer”, she says and adds that out of the 5 CD’s she brought out three CDs were brought out after P R Nayak’s death.
After her husband’s death Vasanthi continued taking care of the business of running the advertising agency of her husband “Nayak’s Publicity”. But after 4 years of struggle she gave the ad agency to Brahmanand Kandloor.
Apart from teaching music at CBSE School of Canara School during the last four years, Vasanthi is running Swarashree Kala Vedike where she is teaching Hindustani music to youngsters keen to learn music from her. Over the years Vasanthi Nayak has converted it into a trust and through this Trust a musical instrument to a deserving student year and also scholarship to 4 deserving students. Following the success of the first CD that was played during the prathishtan of Vyas Mandir in Haridwar her Guru Kaushalya Manjeshwara had suggested the name of Swarashree productions to her CD. After that P R Nayak named the house as “Swarashree” and the music school was also named Swarashree Kala Vedike. Through Swarashree she is conducting summer camps titled “Ankur” for the last 14 years where young students are trained in skills aimed at their personality development.
Swarashree had celebrated its silver jubilee year a few years ago in a grand manner which demonstrates the dedication and commitment of Vasanthi Nayak to the cause she espouses. Vasanthi Nayak is also a lyricist who has written over 40 songs which makes her an approved lyricist of All India Radio. She has brought out a book of the songs she has written titled “Bhakti Bhava Milana” in 2005 dedicated to her late husband. She sings Bhajans and songs for most of the functions and gatherings of the community. With age catching up with her now she is concentrating on providing a platform for singers trained by her.
Awards and recognitions have come on her way for her achievements in music. She was awarded the District level Rajyothsava award in 1997 and also Karnataka Konkani Sahitya Academy for her contribution to music. In 2005 she was again awarded the district level Rajyotsava award for her book of songs. In 2011 she was given Nupura award by Nupura Dance academy and Purandaradas Award. Many other organizations have also honoured her from time to time for her contributions to the field of music. Recently GSB community of Bangalore also recognized her contributions by honouring her. She has been given titles like “sangeet kogile”, “sangeet Ratna” and “ganashree”.
Vasanthi Nayak recalls that attitude of people has undergone a sea-change from the time when she was learning music. She is happy for today’s crop of singers who get respect and monetary benefits unlike earlier times when she had to spend her own money even for giving public performances. “When I was at the peak, singers did not have the same respect which the present generation of singers commands. Even the general public did not know the value of music or that of singers. I was able to spend and perform because of the moral and financial support given by my husband”, she reminisces.
Though age is catching up with her she still continues to teach music as it gives her the satisfaction and peace. Though she does not have children of her own she has adopted Vanitha her assistant who had come to work for her at the age of ten. Vanitha’s son is like her own grandson and she has never felt any vacuum or void in her life. Rather she was able to dedicate more for time for pursuing her music.
Vasanthi Nayak is a rare gem that sparkled brightly in Konkani music field. Her perseverance and allegiance to music has made her a well known name as singer of caliber and substance. Let us hope she continues to leave behind her rich legacy through the young talent she has groomed.